South Africa end Day Three of the third Test on 208 for 6, still needing 92 runs to avoid follow-on, which will be their first target when play begins on Day Four. The day belonged to Dominic Bess, who scalped his maiden five-wicket haul. But in the end, South Africa have ended well, thanks to a steady partnership between Quinton de Kock (63*) and Vernon Philander (27*).
England started the day extremely well as Bess, fresh from two wickets on Day Two, added two more to his tally within the first hour. South Africa were on the backfoot right away with Dean Elgar (35) and Faf du Plessis (8) back in the pavilion. The pressure was on the middle-order and the lower-order to resurrect the South African innings. The runs too were coming slowly, much to South Africa’s frustration.
With the wicket of Rassie Van der Dussen (24), Bess had picked up his maiden five-wicket haul. He had bowled the entire first session unchanged. With 15 minutes to lunch, the rain came in, which brought an early end to the session.
Anrich Nortje however managed to hold up one end, while the other top-order batsmen failed. He did not score at a brisk rate, but put a price on his wicket. England had thrown absolutely everything at him, but he kept all of it out. He found a good partner in Quinton de Kock, with whom he put on a solid fifty stand after putting on 38 for the fifth wicket with van der Dussen.
Vernon Philander came all guns blazing and hit four boundaries off his first 10 deliveries. It was going to be a crucial partnership for South Africa in their bid to avoid the follow-on and possibly avoid defeat in the Test. They brought up their fifty stand for the seventh wicket, which took them closer to that mark.
De Kock and Philander’s unbeaten stand of 54 has not just been a fluent one but an extremely vital one for the Proteas. With rain set to play a part on Day Four as well, South Africa will feel like they have a great chance of drawing the game. However, England without a doubt, will look to force the issue and get their opponents bowled out under 300.
Things would have been different had Stokes held on to one of three catches at slip of de Kock - twice off Joe Root and once off Joe Denly - but England were denied of a chance to take a complete stronghold of the match because of that.
Due to fading lights, England could not bowl the fast bowlers at the latter stage of the day, but that will not be the issue early on Day Four with the new ball available.
England 499 for 9 decl. (Ollie Pope 135*, Ben Stokes 120; Keshav Maharaj 5 for 180, Kagiso Rabada 2 for 97) lead South Africa 208 for 6 (Quinton de Kock 63*, Dean Elgar 35; Dominic Bess 5 for 51, Ben Stokes 1 for 26) by 291 runs.